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Mia Mercado: On Challenging Niceness Through Personal Essays

Writer Mia Mercado discusses combining essays with short stories in her new collection, She’s Nice Though.

Mia Mercado is currently a contributor to The Cut. Her work has also been featured in places like The New Yorker, the New York Times, Washington Posts’s The Lily, Bustle, McSweeney’s, Reductress, BUST, The American Bystander, Gizmodo, and The Hairpin. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Mia Mercado: On Challenging Niceness Through Personal Essays

Mia Mercado

In this post, Mia discusses combining essays with short stories in her new collection, She’s Nice Though, how the idea for the collection came about, and more!

Name: Mia Mercado
Literary agent: Monica Odom, Odom Media Management
Book title: She’s Nice Though
Publisher: HarperOne
Release date: August 30, 2022
Genre/category: Humor, Essay Collections
Previous titles: Weird But Normal
Elevator pitch for the book: A collection of funny essays and stories on kindness, goodness, and obedience, including a list of “Things That Are So Bad They’re Good” and an essay on whether “Nice Girls Finish Eventually.”

Mia Mercado: On Challenging Niceness Through Personal Essays

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What prompted you to write this book?

For Weird But Normal, I wrote an essay called “Can I Be a Good Girl While Still Getting Fucked Up?” which is essentially the thesis for this book. I started thinking about the ways I’d conflated agreeability and kindness, rule-following and goodness. Is acting nice the same as being nice? Am I just doing “good” things so other people think I’m a good person?

I started writing this book when we were going into the second year of the pandemic, and those questions had taken on a greater, or at least different, meaning. I still don’t have all (any??) of the answers, in part because I think those are questions we can only answer for ourselves. I also wrote this book because it is my job, and I require income to live.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

I pitched the book at the end of 2020 and wrote most of it in the first half of 2021. My editor Sydney Rogers and I did the bulk of the editing over the next six-ish months, and now she’s here!

The concept remained mostly the same throughout the process—a book of funny essays on niceness and all that encompasses. Also, because I’m nosy and like to know things like this, the title (She’s Nice Though) stayed the same from pitch to publication.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

I am surprised that they let me write another book. Big mistake, huge!

Mia Mercado: On Challenging Niceness Through Personal Essays

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

To my own surprise, this book includes a couple of short stories. English professors everywhere are applauding!

I have a condition (being alive) where I default to writing about myself, mostly because that’s what I feel most qualified to write about. But I’m trying to expand the kinds of things I feel “allowed” to write—or rather, I’m trying to stop waiting for permission to write new things.

I got to do that a little in this book with stories like “I’m the Bad Guy,” which ended up being one of the pieces I enjoyed writing the most.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

A brief respite from thinking about everything that is bad about the world to focus on thinking about what is bad about me. And I hope it makes people laugh at least once.

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

Start with season three of Love Island U.K. because you’ll get a little bit of everything: A budding bromance, an introduction to Olivia Thee Attwood, an appreciation of the Essex accent, someone too smart for the franchise trying to explain what feminism is, white men attempting to rap. Also, be yourself and have fun.

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